By Jonathan Chen (V)
This year, Pingry boys’ swimming will look to improve on last year’s successful season. After finishing last season with wins at Conferences, Counties, States, and Preps, new swimmers have joined the team, making Pingry’s team a swimming powerhouse of the state.
The team has considerably improved its depth from last year. Captain Billy Fallon (VI) said, “Our team is incredibly deep this year due to not only the return of many contributors from last year but also the addition of multiple standout freshmen.”
Additionally, according to Meet of Champions swimmer Jonathan Chen (V), “The coaches andthe swimmers treat each other with respect and dignity, which creates a positive environment for success and ultimately encourages other swimmers to work hard and strive for excellence.”
As the team gears up for a strong season, it looks to have a significant matchup with Bridgewater-Raritan High School. Referring to one of Shakespeare’s bloody tragedies, Coach Graig Peterson said, “Titus Andronicus is our duel in the pool with Bridgewater.”
Big Blue boys’ swimming had its first home meet on December 5th against Watchung Hills, winning by an impressive 135.5 – 31.5. Seven swimmers had won at least one event, and Pingry took first and second in all its relay heats.
The team won its next meet 121-49 against Hunterdon Central, and they will swim at Montgomery High School on December 19th.
By Miro Bergam ’19
On November 18, Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) from high schools across New Jersey met at Montgomery High School for the fourteenth annual New Jersey GSA Forum. The event aimed to connect New Jersey GSAs with local charities and resources, such as GLSEN, HiTOPs, and the ACLU, as well as connect New Jersey GSAs with each other. The theme of the forum this year was “Our Voices, Our Stories.”
Along with Ms. Kathryn Smith, Assistant to the Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Department and Upper School Latin teacher, and Ms. Stephanie Mygas, Upper School science teacher, the student leaders of Pingry’s GSA attended keynotes and workshops throughout the day to learn about a variety of different topics ranging from privilege to self-care to building a better GSA.
The day began at 9 AM. An impressive showing of over six hundred attendees seated themselves in the central auditorium to mingle and listen to opening remarks. A keynote panel was held, featuring four prominent LGBTQ+ youth leaders in New Jersey. The panelists introduced themselves and answered questions regarding their identities, touching on the event’s overall theme of sharing LGBTQ+ voices and stories.
After the panel, there were three rounds of workshops with a short break for lunch in between. The workshops ranged from the hands-on “Salon,” in which participants learned about and engaged in the queer tradition of drag style and makeup, to the informative “Know Your Rights,” where participants took a deep, analytical look at New Jersey’s protections for LGBTQ+ students.
Other workshops included “HIV: Break the Silence,” which educated attendees on how to protect themselves from HIV, and “The Power of Storytelling,” which gave participants the opportunity to explore the many ways they can share their unique story.
“This was my second year attending the GSA Forum and I can see how it has impacted our students,” said Ms. Smith regarding her experience at the event. She continued, “It allows students to grow as activists and people, and affirms to them that they are part of a community that stretches way beyond their friends and school community.”
Ethan Malzberg (V) said, “The forum was an eye-opening opportunity to learn about the current state of the LGBTQ+ community. It was really insightful to meet so many peers and adults who I can relate to.” Those who attended the event look to bring the information and skills they have gained back to the Pingry community through working with Pingry’s GSA and Diversity and Inclusion Department.
By Noah Bergam ’21
Tucked at the very east end of the school, beyond the cafeteria, below the crossroads of the foreign language wing and arts wing, lies one of Pingry’s best kept secrets—the mysterious, metallic robotics room.
In this legendary room full of power tools, wires, machines, nuts, bolts, computers, and old robots, Pingry’s robotics team has been preparing for its winter season of competition, the First Tech Challenge. Meeting during CPs, athletics, and sometimes after athletics, the team of over 30 students has been creating a notably effective robot in the hopes of qualifying for the New Jersey State Championships, and perhaps even the World Championships later on.
First, some background on how FTC competitions work.
There is a different game played each year. Each game is played by two alliances of two robots. In a game, there is both an autonomous portion, in which robots run on pre-written codes, and a tele-op period, in which drivers control their team’s robot.
There are essentially two rounds at each competition: the qualification round and the alliance tournament round. The qualification round is a series of randomly generated games that, once finished, creates a ranking for all the teams at the competition. The alliance tournament begins once these rankings is determined. The top ranking teams pick two other teams to create their own alliances. The alliances then play in a single-elimination bracket, and the winning alliance wins the competition as a whole and may qualify for the next round of competition (e.g. winning certain regional competitions qualifies a team for States).
The challenge this year is called Relic Recovery, and it mainly involves stacking rows and columns of “glyphs” (foam cube game pieces) in order to get points. Other ways to get points include parking the robot, placing the plastic “relic” in certain “zones,” and balancing the robot on a surface.
Pingry’s team has had a fantastic showing at its tournaments so far. In its first tournament at Bayonne High School, Pingry placed fourth in qualifications and made it to the semifinals of the alliance tournament. Team Captain Alex Strasser (V) said it “was a great success” as an initial showing and that, afterwards, the “biggest things to fix [were] the autonomous, the glyph arm, the relic arm, and a lot more driving practice.”
While the team did not add a working relic arm for the next competition at Central Jersey College Prep, it did have a much more consistent autonomous code and overall driver control that launched the team into fourth place in qualifications once again and ultimately the finals of the alliance bracket. It narrowly lost two out of three games in the series, but the effort by and results from drivers Derek Huffman (IV) and Julian Lee (III) were still very impressive.
Pingry’s most recent competition was on December 10 at Livingston High School, and it was the first state qualifying tournament of the season. They were the second place alliance and came very close to qualifying. Their next tournament is on January 6th. Wish them luck!
By Ryan Fuentes (VI)
After the introduction of eight chickens to campus this summer, the Farm Team has been working hard to take care of them and make coop improvements over the past several months. As they adapt to their new home and prepare for winter, the chickens have become an important group within the community, both as lovable animals and as tools to teach students about sustainability.
The overall project has been implemented thanks to former art teacher Mr. Delman, who now holds the title of Pingry’s first Sustainability Coordinator. He worked with alumnus and architect Scott Loikits ‘90 to design several projects for a green campus last year, including a farm. The first students to work with the chickens were part of a one-week summer course, “Excursions in a Green World,” in which the students learned about current campus sustainability initiatives.
Led by faculty advisor Ms. Tandon, Farm Team was formed at the beginning of the school year to manage the continued care of the chickens by students. Most recently, it has focused on building a winter coop for the chickens. The previous coop functioned as a place to lay eggs, but the new one also provides a place to perch and rest at night, which is especially important during the winter months.
As far as student-chicken interactions go, Ms. Tandon described how the chickens are friendly and accustomed to working with humans. Among themselves, it may be another story, as they have established a clear pecking order. “Grenda is at the bottom,” noted Ms. Tandon, but she explained that the coop was big enough that each had enough space to prevent real conflict.
Ms. Tandon brought the chickens with her when she moved from Brooklyn, where she first got involved in sustainable farming through volunteering at a local community garden. Now, she is “really interested in teaching students about where food comes from.” The chickens’ eggs have been a feature at the Garden Lunch, which is run by students and faculty.
With the winter coop completed, Farm Team is presently focusing on feeding and managing the chickens. Ms. Tandon sees a lot of potential for the large amount of unused land within the school. In the long term, she hopes not only to expand the coop itself but also to dedicate more fields to growing crops. As Nick Ladino (VI) said, “Farm Team is great. I love going back to nature and taking care of my chickens!”
By Ketaki Tavan ’19
On Wednesday, November 8, Namita Davey (VI) hosted a showing of the film CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap in Hauser Auditorium after school. The event was open to Upper School students and garnered over 15 attendees.
The documentary, as explained on its website, “exposes the dearth of American female and minority software engineers and explores the reasons for this gender gap. CODE raises the question: what would society gain from having more women and minorities code?”
Davey first viewed CODE at the Girls Who Code Summer Program, where she noted that the film was “not only on an important topic, but also really well done in that it highlighted the most important aspects of the issue of the gender gap in tech fields.”
At the summer program, Davey also had the opportunity to attend a question-and-answer session with the film’s director, Robin Hauser Reynolds. During this session, Davey was most impacted by Reynolds’ sharing that what inspired her to make CODE was the fact that her daughter did not have the option to learn computer science in school.
“Many schools don’t have a computer science curriculum because there is a serious lack of computer science teachers,” Davey said. Inspired by CODE’s message and execution, Davey sought to bring it to Pingry.
When asked what effect she hoped CODE would have on the Pingry community, Davey said, “For students, especially females, I hoped that it would make the subject and field of computer science less intimidating. It’s often seen as a ‘man’s’ field, and I think the movie does a really good job of disproving that.” She added, “I hope that showing the movie at school was a step in the direction of dispelling the myth that men are better than women at computer science, and that as a result, more girls will become interested in computer science at Pingry.”
Jackie Chang (VI) attended Davey’s showing of CODE, commenting, “The movie really opened my eyes about the gender gap in the technology industry.” She added that the movie prompted her to consider the gender gap that exists in the broader world as well. “It was inspiring to see both women and men talk about this issue,” Chang said.
When discussing computer science at Pingry, Davey noted, “I am so fortunate to have a female computer science teacher and a class that is split rather evenly in terms of gender distribution.” She then drew the connection that “there are a lot of people in other schools who don’t have this same privilege.” She added, “The movie does a good job of reminding people that the gender gap in tech fields is still a very real problem, popping the Pingry bubble that we sometimes live in.”
By Grace Wang (III)
During the week before Thanksgiving break, four of the school’s musical groups performed in this year’s Ensembles Concert. The concert consisted of the strings ensemble, the Buttondowns, the Balladeers, and the jazz band.
The concert took place in a transformed senior area, where the senior couches were replaced with chairs and benches for the audience. Faculty, friends, and family stood and sat from the library balconies all the way down to the senior area.
The strings ensemble set the tone for the concert, beginning with “Ashokan Farewell” by Jay Ungar with strings teacher Ms. Vera Izano playing alongside her middle and high school students. A few select students performed Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 4, namely, Rebecca Lin (VI) and Felicia Ho (V) on the violin, Ethan Chung (VI) on the cello, and Ms. Izano and Jessica Li (VI) on the viola. The strings ensemble then finished off their performance with an arrangement of Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Johannes Brahms, with Head of the Music Department Dr. Andrew Moore accompanying on the piano.
The strings ensemble was followed by a combined performance by the Balladeers and the Buttondowns. The two groups joined to sing a moving rendition of “Over the Rainbow” arranged by Mark Hayes and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” arranged by Kirby Shaw.
The Balladeers continued the performance, wearing their signature black dresses and purple sashes around their waists. The Balladeers’ performance was coordinated by music teacher Mr. Jay Winston. The a cappella group arranged themselves in a semi-circle and sang “The Sound of Silence” arranged by Balladeers president Maya Huffman (VI). Ashana Makhija (IV) sang the starting solo, and Nicole Gilbert (IV), Isabel Devito (V), and Anna Wood (VI) joined in with their own solos throughout the song. The Balladeers then sang “The Seal Lullaby” by Eric Whitacre and ended with “Fireflies,” also arranged by Maya Huffman, with soloist Nina Srikanth (IV).
Following the Balladeers, the Buttondowns continued the concert with the traditional Korean folk song “Arirang,” arranged by Brad Printz, with guest soloist Alyssa Chen (VI) on the flute. The group then took on the pop song “Just the Way You Are,” arranged by former Buttondown James Robertson ’17 and the current Buttondowns president Jonathan Huang (VI), with strong solo performances by Rajeev Doraswamy (V) and Ian Dugan (V). They then concluded their part of the concert with “Death of a Bachelor” by Panic! At the Disco, arranged by Jonathan Huang, who also was the featured soloist. Alex Kaplan (III), Nolan Baynes (III), Ian Dugan (V) and others took on supporting parts in the song.
The performance concluded with the jazz band directed by music teacher Mr. Sean McAnally. The ensemble performed the songs “Red Clay” by Freddie Hubbard, “Stop” arranged by Sean McAnally, and “Better Get It In Your Soul” by Charles Mingus, all of which frequently featured improvisations by different members of the group.
By Kristine Fu ’19
Pingry’s Podcast Club is a new club started by Annaya Baynes (V) and Udochi Emeghara (V) that gives students an opportunity to create an anthological podcast. A podcast is an auditory episodic series ranging from informational talks to audio drama. Audio dramas, which are the podcasts that the club is currently working on, are purely acoustic performances that have no visual components. Baynes described them as “a totally unique way to experience fiction.” The five episode series that the club is currently making draws from the talent of its 15 members who are working together to write a script. According to Baynes, the theme for this anthology is the “folly of humanity.” The club is currently in its voice casting process, and the expected release of this intriguing podcast is early December. In an interview with the club leaders Annaya Baynes and Udochi Emeghara, we learned about the creative process and their current project.
Where did this idea of podcast club come from?
Annaya: I listened to fifty different podcasts this summer and I realized that I can do this! I bought a mic and I researched questions like: How do you write a podcast? How do you write a script? What type of equipment do you need? We have a lot of creative people in our school and we can do it.
What is the story-making process like?
Annaya: It’s ideal to have a smaller club, but it’s also good to see that there are so many of us interested in podcasts. There are roughly 15 of us in a classroom and it gets pretty hectic. You want to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard, but you also don’t want the result to be a jumbled up mess. There’s a lot of yelling and talking over one another, but it’s a very creative process.
What makes recording stories different from writing stories or acting them out?
Annaya: When you are writing for an audio drama, there is an inherent disadvantage because a play is something that an audience can see onstage. There is so much more that can be done with body language. An audio drama has to have the same clarity that you would have with a visual play but still not be telling and not showing.
Udochi: All that audio dramas have is the intonation of the voice, and how you can make people feel a certain way by just the sound of your voice is really really difficult to do.
By Felicia Ho (V)
On October 27th, over 800 Upper and Middle School students, faculty, and staff volunteered at 34 organizations for Pingry’s annual Rufus Gunther Day. Students worked on a variety of different projects, including making ceramics, helping the facilities team, building a chicken coop, performing music for senior citizens, and working with students at local charter schools.
Rufus Gunther Day has been an integral part of the Pingry tradition since Pingry was at the Hillside campus. It is the one day in the school year during which the entire Pingry community devotes itself to community service.
Ms. Shelley Hartz, Director of Community Service, has successfully developed several partnerships with local- and alumni-founded community service organizations, leading to a variety of service opportunities on Rufus Gunther Day. Ms. Hartz shared that she loves how “when the students are returning, they are all excited about the time they spent in the community… and how much the day meant to them.”
Students, staff, and faculty volunteered at organizations like the Community Food Bank in Hillside, ECLC (“Education, Careers & Lifelong Community”), and the Great Swamp, all of which have long-standing partnerships with the Pingry community. Many also volunteered with non-profit organizations started by alumni, such as Birthday Wish, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the John Taylor Babbitt Foundation, and the Keep the Children Safe Halloween Parade.
Several service opportunities were new to Rufus Gunther Day this year. Thirteen Upper School drama students played improvisational theater games at Montgomery Academy in Basking Ridge, a school for students facing social, emotional, and academic challenges. Twenty-seven Upper School students performed music for children and elderly at the Cornerstone Family Programs and Morristown Neighborhood House.
Monica Chan (III), who performed at Cornerstone Day Center for Adults with the Horizon Music Volunteers group, said, “It was a rewarding experience for me. I find happiness in making people smile, no matter who, no matter where.”
This year, the Middle School was split into several different groups, with 150 students (Grade 6 and most of Form I) volunteering at the Community Food Bank in Hillside and other students volunteering at the Great Swamp or remaining at Pingry to help with campus projects. The Middle School also collected and sorted 1,795 pounds of candy to donate to the Keep Children Safe Halloween Parade in Newark, led by Pat Birotte ’87.
Reflecting on the successful day, Ms. Hartz said she is thankful “that the best part of my job is working everyday with committed and engaged students who are constantly looking for ways to engage with the larger community.”
By Allison Lee ’20
On November 11, the Upper School had the honor of hosting Sergeant Jason Foster for this year’s Veterans Day assembly. Ryan Willsey (VI), founder of Pingry’s Wounded Warrior Project Club, introduced Foster as the speaker for the assembly. Foster is a former combat medic in the U.S. army. He enlisted in the army when he was twenty-one years old and proudly served for nine years.
Telling stories from his experience as a combat medic, Foster spoke of the struggles of war. He said, “We were shot at and blown up by improvised explosive devices. I was knocked unconscious on four separate occasions. Most 21-year olds are playing drinking games; I was cradling a warrior in my arms as he died.” He added, “You grow up fast.”
Foster, who had planned on dedicating his career to protecting our nation, encountered a complication when doctors discovered a brain bleed the size of a quarter in his right frontal lobe. This injury forced him to medically retire from the army in 2011.
Foster’s purpose in the army had always been to help others, so when he returned home, he “felt absolutely worthless.” His wife Theresa helped him out of the dark by contacting the Wounded Warrior Project, who helped Foster find a new purpose: guiding fellow warriors.
Based on the way he found new meaning in his life, he encouraged students and faculty to use their talents to give back to their community. “More often than not,” Foster said, “your actions might go unnoticed. But they make a difference. Everything you do matters. You have unique talents that you can use to give back.”
He then brought Willsey back on stage to commend and thank him for his work with the Wounded Warrior Project.
Regarding his involvement with the Veterans Day assembly and the Wounded Warrior Project Club, Willsey said, “I have many members in my family who have served in the military and I suppose that is one of the reasons why the military and veterans are important to me.” He continued, “From a young age I have been taught to respect their sacrifice for us. Not only are their stories incredibly moving, but their perseverance to overcome everything they have gone to is truly amazing.”
As Foster closed his speech, he implored Pingry to embrace its sense of community. He mentioned that, in a few months, Pingry might not remember who he is or what he said. Instead, Pingry will remember how he made them feel. The assembly ended with a moment of silence for soldiers who served and lost their lives in the military.
By Mariam Trichas ’18
On Tuesday, November 14th, the photography, portfolio, film, and drawing and painting classes visited the Chelsea Galleries in New York City for their annual gallery trip. They went to many different types of galleries, including ones that specialized in photography, painting, and abstract art, inspiring a variety of different reactions amongst the students.
One of the more abstract art galleries the students visited was the Paul Kasmin Gallery, which showcased Lee Krasner’s Umber Paintings. Many students commented that these paintings, which looked like random brush strokes, reminded them of Jackson Pollock’s paintings. They later learned that Lee Krasner was actually Jackson Pollock’s wife.
Another gallery had wooden floors and a variety of suspended sculptures, along with green fuzz-looking material; it looked like a forest of abstract art. Other interesting galleries included one in which there was a gigantic beard suspended in the air, another with a variety of rotating furniture items, and one in which there were photographs of crumpled pieces of paper.
“This was my second time going on the Chelsea trip, and even though we didn’t see as many galleries as last year due to a traffic jam that caused the buses to be delayed, it was still nice to walk around the city and see the variety of artwork,” said Jewell Strickland (VI) of the experience. “My favorite part was probably going to Eataly.” She added that her favorite gallery was the one with suspended sculptures that looked like a forest.
During the gallery trip, students were given the assignment of taking three photos of art that they liked, three they were confused by, and one they would “gift” to a friend.
After visiting different galleries for around two hours, the students then boarded their buses to Eataly NYC Flatiron, which is always one of the students’ favorite parts of the trip. There, they lined up at the variety of cafes and counters for pizza, pasta, and other Italian foods and desserts. At school the next day, the classes continued discussions about the gallery artwork as well as artwork they may have been confused by during their art classes.
Overall, the gallery trip to Chelsea was a success, much enjoyed by those who went.
By Eva Schiller ’21
On November 21, students and faculty members took a break from their busy school day to enjoy the Buttondowns Assembly, a highly anticipated annual event presented by the Buttondowns, Pingry’s all-male acapella group led by president Jonathan Huang (VI).
The annual Buttondowns movie opened the show. It was filmed by Ian Dugan (V) and sparked the laughter of many students. The movie’s theme was inspired by Agatha Christie’s famous murder mystery, And Then There Were None. In the movie, the Buttondowns are eliminated one by one, starting with the freshmen. In a twist ending, it was revealed that the freshmen are the murderers, with the moral being to “never mess with freshmen.”
The movie ended with the tradition of the Buttondowns entering Hauser Auditorium to the song, “We Will Rock You,” dressed in the their recognizable outfits: khakis and white button-down shirts. They then began singing.
The first song they performed was “Sunday Candy” by Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment, a popular group which features Chance the Rapper. The Buttondowns’ rendition featured soloists Nolan Baynes (III) and James Wang (IV).
“This solo was a perfect fit for me because ‘Sunday Candy’ is one of my favorite songs,” said Baynes, “and to perform it with one of my friends since sixth grade, James Wang, is a dream come true.” This song, along with others, was even more memorable as the soloists interacted with the audience, occasionally kneeling down and serenading audience members in aisle seats.
The next song was “Give Me Love” by Ed Sheeran, with soloists Ore Shote (III) and Jared Tiggs (VI). “Looking back on the assembly, there are things I would have done differently, but I think that everything went better than was planned,” said Shote of the performance.
“Give Me Love” was followed by “Just the Way You Are” by Billy Joel, with soloists Rajeev Doraswamy (V) and Ian Dugan (V). After the song, the Buttondowns underclassmen thanked president Jonathan Huang for his contributions to the group. Huang soloed in the final song, “The Death of a Bachelor” by Panic! At the Disco, to end the assembly.
Reminiscing on his years as a Buttondown, Huang had much to say. After the assembly, he said, “As far as today’s performance, I went through many different emotions. I felt a rush of excitement running onto stage, and it was bittersweet singing the last lines of ‘Death of a Bachelor.’ To the Pingry community: Thank you for being a part of my most special moments at Pingry. I love all of you.”
Huang also thanked Dr. Moore “for being the backbone of the group. None of the music would have been made without his endless guidance and support.”
He also noted that “The time Ian Dugan spent on shooting and editing the movie is unbelievable, and I am very grateful for his amazing work.”
The Buttondowns received fullhearted support and positive feedback from the Pingry community both during and after their performance. “The audience was incredible, and all the Buttondowns felt wonderful hearing the applause and kind words after the performance,” said Huang.
By Brooke Murphy ’18
On October 27, juniors and seniors gathered on the turf for the annual Powderpuff Games. The event was organized by S.M.A.C., the “Student Movement Against Cancer” club, and students competed in two different events. First, the junior boys played a game of field hockey against the senior boys. Girls from both grades volunteered to referee and coach the game. In the field hockey game, the seniors were victorious with a 6-1 win over the juniors with the help of goals from players like Colin McKinnon (VI) and Austin Parsons (VI).
After the field hockey game concluded, the junior and senior girls took to the field for a game of two-hand touch football. The boys, many of whom are on Pingry’s football team, offered to coach and referee the girls in their battle against the opposing grade. Like the boys, the senior girls were victorious over the juniors in their game. Powderpuff was a great way to let seniors de-stress right before the early admissions deadline for college.
However, this fun event meant so much more than just a way for students to blow off some steam and engage in friendly competition. Taking place during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the event helped raise money for and awareness about breast cancer. Mary Nussbaumer (VI), leader of S.M.A.C., said, “While collecting money was very stressful, it was worth it because over 1,000 dollars were raised.” For fundraising, Nussbaumer organized a Google Form for juniors and seniors to sign up for the games and order t-shirts. Each shirt was $20 and featured a special design for this year’s games. Nussbaumer worked with Director of Community Service Ms. Shelley Hartz weeks ahead of the games to set a date and figure out logistics. Altogether, 76 seniors and 77 juniors ordered shirts and participated in the Powderpuff events.
Jessie Carvelli (VI) said that her favorite part of Powderpuff was “the school spirit and infectious good energy.” To further help organize the games, Nussbaumer teamed up with the Big Blue Pride Committee to order pizza and decorations for the event. Nussbaumer said that her favorite parts of Powderpuff were “hanging out with her friends, listening to music, and watching everyone try out a new sport.” She added that, “it was really fun to see how into it everyone got, especially as a field hockey player myself.” Jason Weiss (VI) said that the best part about Powderpuff was “knowing that we raised a lot of money for charity.” This event would not have been possible without the help of Coach Decatur and Coach Drabich, who chaperoned the event; Bruce Morrison, who took pictures; Ms. Erin Rose and Mr. Stephen Spezio, who were there to help in case anyone got hurt; Ms. Hartz, who coordinated the event with Nussbaumer; and the Big Blue Pride Committee, who provided refreshments and decorations for the event.
By Ethan Chung ’18
There are few things in which I have expertise, and Korean Barbeque is one of them. If you ever wish to experience some of the best Korean food—barbeque included—I, a Korean American well-versed in the world of Korean cuisine, highly recommend a restaurant called Chung Dam Dong.
It is well worth the trip to New Jersey’s Koreatown in Palisades Park to have a taste of authentic Korean food done right. There are plenty of other great Korean Barbecue places in the Fort Lee/Palisades Park Koreatown area, but the quality of meat and the banchan (the included side dishes) are what make Chung Dam Dong stand out.
Whenever eating out is an option, I always push for this restaurant. I get excited every time I see the waitress bring the circular tray of raw meats bathing in a sweet and savory marinade of sesame oil and soy sauce. The platter contains a surplus of short rib pieces, thinly sliced so they can soak up as much succulent marinade as they can and also cook faster on the grill that awaits.
The waitress places the raw short rib pieces on the grill, built into the table, so you can enjoy the smell and the sounds of the choice cuts before you have the honor of tasting them. Once cooked, the waitress uses her metal tongs to hand-deliver the pieces of short rib, or “kalbi,” to your plate.
Unlike some other Korean restaurants, Chung Dam Dong’s kalbi is not served with the attached bones, making the process of quickly devouring the beef right as it leaves the grill very easy. Some like to eat the kalbi by wrapping it in lettuce. I, on the other hand, think that doing so is too time consuming; therefore, I choose to enjoy my kalbi with rice and the restaurant’s homemade ssamjang, a mixture of miso paste and red chili paste.
When you bite into each piece of short rib, it almost falls apart in your mouth; it’s that tender and delicate. Chung Dam Dong doesn’t serve the sad version of Korean barbeque involving tough, chewy pieces of meat where you have to maneuver your way around the remaining bones and fat. No, this restaurant provides exquisite morsels of well-marbled short rib that pack a sweet, savory, and umami-filled punch, leaving you wanting more.
But it’s not just kalbi that Chung Dam Dong does right. I always look forward to the banchan, the free side dishes that provide you with a colorful array of small bites to keep you occupied when waiting for your entrée—think of banchan as a more plentiful amuse-bouche. The selection of included banchan dishes always changes. In the many times I’ve dined at Chung Dang Dong, some of the more memorable banchan plates include fried mackerel, steamed egg, fried chicken, fried tofu, porridge, kimchi, and fishcake.
At Chung Dang Dong, I’ve never had to place a reservation or wait too long to be seated, as service is fast and space is ample. The wait staff are all very kind and are always willing to throw in a free bowl of rice or extra servings of a banchan dish you particularly enjoyed. Make the trip to this restaurant in Palisades Park and you will leave with a warm sense of comfort that only excellent homemade food can give you.
By Vicky Chen (V)
Named the Best Picture of 2017 by L.A. Critics, Luca Guadagnino’s controversial Call Me By Your Name explores the harrowing coming-of-age experiences of first love and identity. The movie stars Timothee Chalamet as 17-year-old Italian-American Elio and features his time spent one summer at his family’s villa in northern Italy. Armie Hammer is introduced as the early-20s, charming, all-American Oliver, who has come to the villa to study with Elio’s father, a professor of Greco-Roman culture.
The film explores the tumbling romance that develops slowly between Elio and Oliver, navigating the turns of life that summer throws at them. Elio spends his summer days playing and composing music for the piano and guitar, biking around the stunning scenery of Crema, Italy, and reading books in the sun. Oliver proves to be a social butterfly in this new community; he wins the affection of Elio’s parents quickly, as well as the admiration of all the girls. Elio watches Oliver from the side, quietly keeping to himself. Their relationship begins to slowly develop from their furtive dinner-table interactions into something much more.
As the story is told from Elio’s point of view, his crush on Oliver begins to escalate and reveal more about his character. Chalamet portrays his teenage character perfectly, allowing the audience insight into the vulnerability of discovering one’s identity. The audience is there at every step as Elio explores his final summer before adulthood. He struggles with his sexual identity, maintaining a sexual but emotionless relationship with a girl around the neighborhood, all while constantly keeping his eye on Oliver. Even though the connection between Elio and Oliver is apparent from the start, both of them work hard to maintain a cold distance between themselves. The movie comes to a climax towards the end, when the tension between the two is finally acknowledged, and they begin an electrifying, mesmerizing, and short-lived hidden relationship.
The realistic portrayal and attention to detail in this film makes it extraordinarily special. Guadagnino maneuvers the sluggish summer days gracefully, depicting a lush and beautiful setting that envelops the viewer in its authenticity. As Elio and Oliver’s relationship becomes deeper, their interactions become increasingly awkward. However, it is not bad acting that creates this tension between the characters—their interactions are written to be painfully realistic in their long pauses and flustered statements. Guadagnino perfectly portrays the teenage clumsiness of navigating a first love.
Additionally, Guadagnino manages to integrate every aspect of an idyllic summer into the background of the movie. Using an emphasis on nature and a nonchalant pace, Guadagnino is able to replicate an end-of-summer sense of drowsiness and fulfillment. His visual choices and cinematography enable the viewer to feel present in the scene.
The movie ends with an incredibly intimate scene as Elio sits in front of the fireplace, grief-stricken with emotion after learning over the phone about Oliver’s engagement. Everything around him is dynamic, from the flames into which he is staring to the people hustling in the background. As the eerily powerful “Videos of Gideon” by Sufjan Stevens plays softly, tears slowly fall down Elio’s face over the course of three minutes. This finale reiterates the rocky journey of adolescence and emphasizes the impact of not only a first great love, but a first great loss.
By Kristine Fu ’19
The start of the winter shopping holidays begins with Black Friday–a day when retailers hope to turn a profit and our animal instinct of consumerism is unleashed. This past Black Friday, out of all the clothing retailers in New York City, I found myself spending four hours at ZARA (granted, one hour was spent in the horrendous line!). The sale of 30% off was not what attracted the five hundred people in the store; it was the winter fashion line that defied standard winter wear. In past winters, I had relied on Madewell and Anthropologie for quality sweaters, but I had always found the $90- $130 price tag a bit steep. Moreover, the plain grey sweaters lined in my closet were beginning to look more like a uniform than an expression of personal style.
As for new winter trends, tweed is making a comeback! There is nothing more iconic than the Chanel tweed piece. Coco Chanel’s use of the fabric was considered quite revolutionary, as it was inspired by menswear. Tweed is made by weaving the warp and weft, and it uses a variety of different kinds of threads. The unique combinations of colors and the overall irregular appearance makes it a personal fashion favorite. At ZARA, one can find tweed skirts ($39.90), their matching tweed tops ($35.90), tweed dresses of a variety of colors, and even tweed and denim combinations.
Culottes and trousers have become popular as well for their versatility, comfort, and effortlessness. Culottes are flowing pants that resemble a mid-length skirt and are usually paired with a statement belt. They come in a variety of styles ranging from pleated to ribbed. Rather than wearing restrictive black jeans everyday, opt for a pair of culottes or trousers.
Suede and fur coats are timeless winter staples, but be sure to always buy faux! Faux fur is cheaper, easier to clean, and just as fabulous. There is no better way to stand out from a crowd of black puffer jackets than to wear a faux fur coat. Faux suede feels the same as real suede, but is much easier clean and is more resistant to liquid than leather. Not only is suede soft and chic, but it also can be paired with anything. This winter, be sure to dress warm, but also – stay fashionable!